Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos

The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories

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15. "Human Nature" (1995)

"When I first called up [Jean-Baptiste] Mondino and I said I wanted to do the video, I said that I wanted it to be more dance-oriented than the things that I had done before," said Madonna. "Mondino found this book by this illustrator named [Eric] Stanton who does kinda S&M drawings and stuff — but we didn't want to go for the straight S&M; we wanted to have it be more about making fun of it." Following a half-decade of sexually charged work — the banned "Justify My Love" video, the explicit Sex book, the thriller Body of Evidence, the entire Erotica album — Madonna and Mondino made a simple statement ("it's human nature") with a wink, a smile and some choreography. Dressed in bondage gear, Madonna laughs, makes funny faces and disciplines her Chihuahua with a riding crop in a video that's kind of like 50 Shades of Busby Berkeley. "The song is about basically saying don't put me in a box, don't pin me down, don't tell me what I can and can't say. It's about breaking out of the restraints, " she said. "So that's basically the point of the costume."

Jean-Baptiste Mondino, director: All I know is...my main problem is I don't like videos when somebody's dancing, that the camera is moving a lot. I'm more like an old-time, classic guy, because I remember most of the video you had shot with the crane, some Steadicam, plus some panning. So you have about five different cameras shooting a performance, and after they edit like crazy. It gives you a lot of freedom, but I feel very frustrated because I like to see somebody dancing. I hate when there's too much editing. I like the steadiness of the performance because then you can really enjoy the movement of the body. You see the skill.

I like to shrink — as much as I can — the stage because I can grab her. If not, everyone is running around and I'm not good with this. So I came up with the boxes [laughs] and I knew that with the boxes I had to do with something quite un-expect-able because there's not too much stage to dance in. So there's something beautiful about it and they looked like bees or something.

And the rest of it was how to create some kind of choreography and some graphic imagery with the S&M outfits, but with humor. So she has a little dog and she has some funny moments where she drops down, there's some Charlie Chaplin-esque moments into in it. Because S&M is a game, you know? It's dark, it looks dark, but I think people have fun. When you wear rubber like this, you better have fun. If not, you stop using it for sex and you become a diver, you know? 

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